How to survive a friendship breakup

They say people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. But when a friendship ends abruptly it can be difficult coming to terms with the sudden breakup. Our relationship expert discusses why this might happen, and how to cope when it does.

By Nicole Pulsinelli

How to survive a friendship breakup
©iStockphoto.com/UygarGeographic
According to age-old wisdom, you can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends. It's true, you can choose your friends, but unfortunately you can't always make them choose you. Being dumped in a friendship can be very hurtful and it can leave you with a lot of questions. We spoke with Edmonton-based psychologist Debbie Grove about why this may happen and how to cope.

Why this happens


Friendships, like the people involved in them, tend to go through phases. According to Grove, long-term friendships endure a lot due to our ever-changing personal lives. "One friend might be single and the other might have a child, for example," she says. "Something like that can impact a friendship." According to Grove, when one friend isn't continuing to maintain a relationship it's easy for the other to lose interest.
 
Another reason she suggests friendships can dissolve, is when one friend has done something overtly hurtful without reconciliation. The resentment and frustration tends to build and in turn, damages the trust in the friendship.

Warning signs

If you're the one who is doing all the legwork in the friendship, that's likely a sign that something isn't right. "If you are making all the arrangements and following up and the other person isn't contributing much," she explains, "you may start feeling you're putting a lot into this and not getting a lot out of it."

It should set off alarms if a friend isn't making you a priority in their life. According to Grove, making time for your friends is very important in maintaining a friendship. Insignificance isn't a vibe a friend should give you. "If they're your true friend they will make the time," she says.

Another warning sign of a faltering friendship is lacking confidence and the ability to confide in each other. "You need to ask yourself if this is a good friend and somebody you can trust." Grove says. "Trust becomes a really important pillar in friendship."

How to move on from a failed friendship



Is there a reason?

Try connecting with your friend to find out what's happening. According to Grove, when there is a lack of communication, people make assumptions. If you successfully are able to communicate with the person, you may find that it has nothing to do with you. Grove suggests they may be experiencing something personal such as a change in health like depression. If you cannot reach them, consider leaving a voice message. "Tell them that you are thinking about them, hope everything is okay and understand if they need some space. Tell them you are available if they need to connect," Grove says. 

Keep a journal

Journaling is a great way to release your feelings. Grove suggests asking yourself a lot of questions. "It can be challenging because you're looking for answers without the help of the other person," she says.

She also suggests specifically asking yourself constructive questions, such as: "Is there anything I did to contribute to this?" and "Have there been any warning signs over the past six months?" Try answering these questions with complete honesty, as difficult as it may be. "Self-awareness is a work-in-progress throughout our lives," Grove says.

Don't isolate yourself

Speaking to someone you trust will help you to not internalize what's going on. "It's amazing how people will make realizations when talking about something out loud," Grove says.

She suggests, talking with someone who can offer perspective, like a friend, family member or a counsellor. If you have a mutual friend ask if they've heard from that friend lately. However, Grove cautions not get into too much detail.

Write them a letter

Don't write a hurtful or angry letter, but Grove suggests something respectful, detailing what you haven't had the opportunity to express. Send it off to that person without any expectation that they will get back to you or read it. "The point is when anybody is left with that kind of unfinished business, resolving it as best as you can becomes very important, psychologically especially," Grove says.

Forgive and let go

Grove believes when we are able to forgive someone, we are letting go of our negative feelings. She also adds, "Forgiveness helps people bring a bit of closure to a situation. You don't have to like the person's decision, but you have to respect it."

What not to do
Since we live in a time where our information is so easily accessible via social media, Grove strongly discourages writing Facebook posts, Tweeting or blogging about that person. "Going public with being a victim or saying disparaging things about the other person will not help the situation," says Grove. 


Now that you're beginning to move on, it's a good time to learn how to make new friends as an adult. Here are five ways to nurture friendships to keep them healthy and strong.


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